Friday, February 14, 2014

Review: Justice League Unlimited "Double Date"

You know, you can tell that Gail Simone likes the Birds of Prey team. I mean, she includes them in a lot of things she writes. This episode, "The Mask of Matches Malone!", the Bird of Prey comic...

And yet, she didn't actually write for the live-action adaptation of the Birds of Prey comic. Huh.
But let's get down to business. It's Valentine's Day; I have a gigantic heart-shaped cookie to deliver.

The episode is a nice breather. It mentions the ongoing CADMUS subplot, but is ultimately a bit of filler. It's excellently-written filler, but filler nonetheless. It works quite well as a standalone episode. The animation is the series' standard fare, and the voice work is good, too.

Huntress is very well-developed in this episode. Her backstory is adapted well, and it lends itself to an interesting plot. To be fair, it's essentially a retread of anytime that Batman confronts his parent's killer, but Gail Simone keeps it interesting by taking away the hero's "no-killing" policy and giving the killer a child of his own. It adds an interesting twist to what could have otherwise been a standard story.

Another thing adding interest was the addition of the Question. Voiced by Star Trek alumnus Jeffrey Combs (who also did the Scarecrow's chilling voice in The New Batman Adventures), the Question is paranoid, but.... unknowably so. Most of his conspiracy theories are ridiculous (he distrusts aglets), but the important theories are spot-on. He will eventually uncover the secrets of CADMUS, as well as discovering Baskin-Robbins' secret thirty-second flavor. ...that's not a joke. So, you never know if he's trolling people with fake conspiracies while he researches the real ones, or if it's just a stopped clock being right twice a day. His romance with Huntress begins in this episode, and I like it. It proceeds organically, and it's plausible that this crush has been going on for sometime before this episode, so it doesn't come completely out of left field. Speaking of romance....

Green Arrow and Black Canary. Well, Gail Simone had to include Black Canary (a member of the Birds of Prey in the comics, natch), so adding her boyfriend, Green Arrow, made this episode a double date. Hence the title. Their inclusion as JLU-appointed guards to Mandragora works well. They're "street level" heroes, so they can handle the situation without being too powerful. I mean, if they put Superman on the job, he could get it done, but there would probably a tsunami somewhere that would better suit his talents. They act antagonistically, but only because the protagonist of the episode wants to murder someone.

This episode is filled with morally grey characters, and it works well. The murderer of Huntress' parents just wants to make a new life with his son, and Huntress, a defender of the law, simply wants to kill him for revenge. It's a unique look at the Batman-Joe Chill dynamic explored in a new way with new characters.

All in all, an excellent episode.
Happy Valentine's Day!

1 comment:

  1. Loved this episode, the question is the best. I also find it interesting that Mandragora's son appeared years earlier as a psychic villain in Batman Beyond and the Zeta Project, that's good world building there.